Having analysed seventy years’ worth of smoking statistics in Russia collected as part of theRussian Longitudinal Monitoring SurveyandGlobal Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), Gerry and Quirmbach published their findings in the paper"Gender, Education and Russia’s Tobacco Epidemic: A Life-course Approach," which focuses in particular on smoking patterns observed since 1991.
According to the researchers, the decreasing prevalence of smoking among Russian men has been accompanied by an upward trend in female smoking. According to the authors, "Male smoking rates were around 60% between 1995 and 2007, and then started to decline, reaching below 50% by 2014, with the sharpest fall observed in the two youngest age groups, 15 to 24 and 25 to 34."
While in 1995, three-quarters of men in these age groups were reported to be current smokers, this number had fallen to 57% by 2014. At the same time, smoking prevalence among Russian women increased in almost all age groups, and overall female smoking rates went up from 9% in 1995 to 14% in 2014.
However, since the number of women smokers had been growing even before 1991, the authors believe that post-Soviet trends in female smoking were prompted not only by the entry of transnational tobacco companies and their aggressive marketing targeted at women, but also by other factors, such as the positive image of female smokers, particularly younger women, which were widespread in Soviet society long before 1991.
The authors name a few additional factors which may have contributed to the changing cultural and social norms in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia, namely:
Thus, the change in female smoking behaviour began in the 1970s and accelerated throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Education has also been found to affect smoking rates.
Historically, the smoking habit was first adopted by women in higher socioeconomic groups before spreading across society. Thus, in the two oldest age cohorts (born in the 1940s and 1950s) those with university education have higher or similar levels of smoking prevalence compared to individuals with lower education.Yet the trend has since reversed, and these days, younger men and women in the lowest educational groups are two to three times more likely to smoke than their peers with a university education. Despite the overall downward trend of male smoking, the proportion of smokers in the lowest educational groups continues to increase for both genders.